Harlequins handed Chandler Cunningham-South injury boost for Bordeaux showdown

Back in action: Chandler Cunningham-South will start for Harlequins in Bordeaux (Getty Images)
Back in action: Chandler Cunningham-South will start for Harlequins in Bordeaux (Getty Images)

Harlequins flanker Chandler Cunningham-South has recovered from his calf strain weeks ahead of schedule to return in time for Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final clash in Bordeaux.

The back-rower has been sidelined since sustaining the injury in England’s 23-22 Six Nations win over Ireland at Twickenham on March 9.

He has revealed he was back running just a fortnight after that, crediting quick healing and sharp- eye medics for his rapid recovery.

The 21-year-old will now square up to a team that thumped Saracens 45-12 last weekend and have lost just twice at home all season.

“I’m ready to go, I’ve healed really quickly, so the calf’s fine now,” Cunningham-South tells Standard Sport. “I was meant to be out for several more weeks yet, so I’m definitely ahead of schedule. I must have special healing powers! It feels really good.

“You have to go with it and see when it comes to rehab, and I’m probably lucky to be young to be back so soon, but getting the nutrition right has definitely helped, too.

“It was easy enough motivation to get back when you’ve got huge games like this. To have the chance to play in a European quarter-final is so exciting.”

The scale of Harlequins’ challenge is laid bare by Saracens’ two experiences at Bordeaux’s Stade Chaban-Delmas this season.

Sarries suffered their heaviest-ever European defeat with January’s group-stage 55-15 loss at Bordeaux and were then sent packing again in last weekend’s last-16 loss.

Throw in the context of Saracens inflicting two heavy defeats on Quins this term, 52-7 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last month and 38-10 at The Stoop in November, and the west Londoners’ underdog status is not in doubt.

Neither is Quins’ resolve, though, especially after downing Glasgow 28-24 at The Stoop in a tense last-16 triumph last weekend.

“They are a big, physical team with pace out wide, so it’s about combating all of that,” says Cunningham-South. “We’ve got to win the collisions, double up in the tackle and stop them at source.

“It’s not like we are the finished article, but we’re a very good team, and on our day we’re very tough to play. To be in that space but still working on it, that’s a great place to be. There’s a great vibe around this week. It will be a hostile crowd, but we love that and I think it brings the best out of us.”